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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
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What to Do With Suicide’s $1 Million Policy?

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The insurer that issued a $1 million policy on the life of the late, estranged husband of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Taylor Armstrong asked a Superior Court judge to decide whether the money should go to Armstrong's previous wife, Barbara Fredrickson, and their son.

Russell Armstrong was found hanged at his Mulholland Drive home in August 2011. Taylor Armstrong had filed for divorce in July, and later claimed that Russell had physically abused her, according to contemporary press reports.

Russell Armstrong, 47, an investment banker, had financial problems and had just been sued for $1.5 million by a former client, the Huffington Post reported at the time.

American General Life Insurance Co. issued a life insurance policy in October 2004 which named Armstrong's ex-wife Barbara Fredrickson as trustee for an insurance trust for the benefit of Armstrong's son.

American General says in its complaint that it was "ready, willing and able to pay the life insurance proceeds" but that "there are actual and conflicting claims relating" to the policy.

"Defendant Barbara Fredrickson as trustee claims entitlement to the proceeds of the subject policy as the named beneficiary. Said claim for benefits was submitted on or about January 9, 2012," the complaint states. "Upon review of the claim, American General contacted Fredrickson requesting a copy of the trust agreement to facilitate payment of the death benefit. Fredrickson has been unable to locate a copy of any trust created by decedent. Therefore, there existed no written appointment of Fredrickson as trustee. American General is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that Russell Armstrong never created an irrevocable life insurance trust for the benefit of A.A. prior to his death."

The insurer adds: "(I)n the event that no trust exists, the estate of Russell Armstrong may have an interest in the proceeds of the subject in that the beneficiary under the purported trust has not been able to establish the existence of the trust."

American General deposited the face value of the policy for the court to distribute after judgment.

The insurance company is represented by Michael Brisbin with Edelman & Dicker of San Francisco. It filed for interpleader and declaratory relief.

Fredrickson as trustee for Russell Armstrong's son, A.A., administrator of the estate of Russell Armstrong, and Does 1-10 are named as defendants.

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